Rabbi David A. Katz | Congregation Dor Tamid
What if G-d spoke to YOU? What if you knew for sure that the Creator of the universe was communicating with you personally?
How would you expect it to be? Would it be a booming Cecil B. DeMille voice? Or a whisper in the dark? Would it be a gentle voice, or it would it be forceful and demanding?
I would like to propose that, in truth, G-d actually does communicate with us and that we are fully capable of understanding G-d. I believe that G-d’s language is not English or Hebrew but a universal code. I believe that one way G-d speaks to us is through the language of universal space.
Yes, space, the final frontier.
Scientists have told us that man’s future is in outer space. To this our tradition responds, “Man, you ARE in outer space!”
You are on a globe that is spinning and revolving its way through universe. You live on a big blue-green ball that circles a yellow star, and that star is one of trillions and trillions that make up a galaxy that itself is turning and turning and turning in space.
G-d is saying to us: “This is your world. I am giving you a space in it, your very own place to be. And I am giving you a physical body so that you can participate in the world that I have created. It is My proclamation of being, like the cry of joy you give forth when you are born. You have a place here that is all yours.
“Know then that the whole world is your home. Don’t look just to the walls of your house and say that this is your home or even to the city in which you dwell or to the country you pledge allegiance to. No. Look up to the stars. When you sit by the ocean late at night and feel in your heart that there is a Creator, that is Me talking to you.
“Yes, you are flying through outer space, and the whole universe is your home. When you think of the universe as your home, you will feel connected to all of humanity, and you will consider all humanity to be your family.
“Look around to the people who are sharing this space with you. Look closely at the people who surround you. There are many people in your world. This is their home, too. The clouds are also theirs. The rain is also theirs. The plants that grow in the earth are theirs, too.
“You are sharing your world with others. So ask yourself: How much of this world do you think you deserve? Some go homeless and have no place to lay their heads at night. So how nice do you think your house should be? How secure do you think you should feel?
“When you watch the poor on TV or see the homeless in your own streets, this is My voice speaking to you. It is then that you will be called upon to respond. My voice will urge you to share your space and all that is in it with those around you.
“And if you would just listen to that voice and be ready to rearrange your space by sharing what you have, then all of you will have enough. No one will go hungry, and all of you will have a place to rest your heads.
“You have looked up to the sky, and you have looked around you to your fellow human beings. Now look down to the earth, the very ground that I have created for you. Look at all the flowers that fill your world and ask yourself: What purpose do all these gorgeous flowers serve? I am G-d; I could have created only one type of flower. In fact, I could have created only one type of ocean wave and only one type of sunset. But, no, I have created a world of variety, a space full of wonderful and awesome beauty — beauty that changes from day to day and from moment to moment.
“You are listening for a booming voice from heaven? C’mon, you live in the age of movies. You should be more attuned to messages delivered in pictures. Because that’s how my message is being transmitted to you. I have created beauty that renews itself day by day. I have created a moving picture in front of your very eyes that sings its song of glory every day. Why do you think I created such a world? Sit back in your seat. This beauty is there for you to appreciate.
“I have reserved a place for you in My world, and even though there are billions of you, each one of you has a front-row seat.”
“My name,” G-d says, “is HaMakom, the Holy Place, the Place that waits for you. Come here. Do not avoid Me. I have formed you, and you are Mine. Come to Me, and I will be present for you.
“Build a dwelling place for Me so that I might live among you. Build temples and come to them. Gather together to acknowledge Me. Give Me a place!
“And when you enter your houses of worship, don’t listen for a booming voice from heaven. Don’t think that you are praying when you hear others sing or talk. Though you may be congregating with others, don’t be distracted by them. Because, in fact, it is you I want to see and hear. It is your presence that I am concerned with. I am watching you! It is you and Me, sharing this space together.
“And when you are filled with My presence, this is how I want you to respond. I want you to say to Me: ‘I will share what I have. I want to rearrange the physical world so that everyone has enough. I want to walk down the streets and not feel uncomfortable when I see a homeless person. I want my feelings of discomfort to vanish. I want to respond to your voice by helping to reorganize the world’s resources. And I will have faith in You, faith that I will not be diminished when I heed Your voice.”
G-d speaks to us through the universal space in which we dwell, through the human scenes that evoke the stirrings of our hearts. With this new year 5777, let each one of us hear that voice of G-d.
Rabbi David A. Katz is the interim spiritual leader at Congregation Dor Tamid.